Fachbereich Geschichtswissenschaft

The project addressed the relevance of migration and mobility for a number of prolific late antique writers, such as Eusebius of Caesarea, Cyril of Alexandria and Maximus the Confessor. It addressed the extent to which the views of Empire set forth in their works dialogue with Roman, Sasanian and Vandal world concepts and realities in ethnically diverse societies, located in the continuous road network of the Roman Empire which facilitated migration and mobility from the Eastern to the Western oceans. Their texts are symptomatic of a number of processes that were decisive for the doctrinal variety, dynastic changes and the fragility of the borders of the Roman Empire, especially with the Saharan and Arabic regions.

In the three months of this fellowship, the academic freedom and collegial support of the research group allowed for the writing of a number of papers and chapters. Directly related to an earlier participation in the conference ‘Migration and Mobility Across the Roman-Persian Frontier, 3rd-7th c. A.D.’ in 2018 was the writing of a chapter on Roman missionary activity in Sassanid Persia, distinguishing between the lived religion of local Christianities and the pastoral dimension of works such as Eusebius’ Theophany. The analysis of the transmission of this work is at the heart of a paper written for the 13th Symposium Syriacum in Paris, which has now been postponed to 2021.

In an article completed in the first month of the fellowship and accepted for publication in the Studia Patristica volumes of the XVIII Oxford Patristics Conference, the mobility of letter-bearers and messengers conveying the festal letters of fourth- and fifth-century bishops of Alexandria was discussed in the light of their Greek and Coptic papyrological evidence. A paper about religious and literary controversies about fourth-century Greek oral and textual poetic practices in which Arius’ Thalia was taken as a case-study of a much wider phenomenon was presented at the ‘VI Semana de Estudos sobre o Período Helenístico’ in São Paulo soon after the end of the fellowship and has been submitted to the Journal of Ancient Christianity. Research on the role North Africa had in sixthcentury migration and mobility in the Mediterranean area led to a paper about the literary evidence for religious violence in the wake of Heraclius’ usurpation at the ‘Historical Dimensions of Religious Violence’ colloquium at the Historische Kolleg (München) in January 2020. It addressed the use of historiography to reflect on the proper working of the political being in a world in which proper observance of res sacrae was linked to imperial identity, and involvement in violence used to qualify characters favourably, when displaying zeal for an imperially sanctioned cause, and negatively, when resorting to violence for condemnable views. In the long term, this research is looking at the mobility of Classical and Christian literary, architectonical and decorative features outside the main North-African urban areas, addressing the extent of cultural exchange along the routes connecting it to Sub-Saharan Africa.

These are only some of the results obtained during the fellowship, which ended just as the COVID-outbreak reached Germany. It is hoped that the uncertainties globally present at the time of writing this report do not prevent the writing and publication of these chapters and articles.

For further information about Luise M. Frenkel, please click here.